I had an existential breakdown and all I have to show for it is this stupid t-shirt

I surprised myself by totally getting into the World Cup earlier this summer. Upon reflection, I think it was mostly an extension of missing L.A. and the diversity that it offers. I felt a wave of excitement and relief when Univision would pan the fans in the stadium. Oh, look! IT’S THE WORLD.

I share that as an example of how team sports can unite us. I get it.

That aside, I’ve been struggling lately. I’m not going to sugar coat it. I’ve been having a hard time with our bucolic town, our oddly blonde campus.

Example #1 of 1

I’m walking by the track as a group of student athletes finishes practice. I notice a young man in a t-shirt. On the back, in all caps it says: EXPECT TO WIN.

I can’t overstate the despair I felt when reading this t-shirt. Anyone else? Does it gross you out a little bit? Or does it make perfect sense as a psychological imperative for athletes? Does my recoil speak to why team sports freaked me out when I was younger? Or at least explain why they weren’t a match for me? Or is it a reflection of more, of the entitlement some athletes feel? Of capitalism?

Seriously, this t-shirt got me down. I wonder, if our campus didn’t often feel so homogenous, so privileged, if it would have hit me the same way. It’s an honest question. I mean, would the t-shirt have any less impact in L.A.? I dunno. Do you?

I’m interested in your thoughts to any of these questions, or your own examples.

2 thoughts on “I had an existential breakdown and all I have to show for it is this stupid t-shirt

  1. I have no idea how this reads in the athlete’s perspective, but *expecting* to win seems flawed to me. Prepare, practice, do your best and all that, but even so there should be an expectation that you will be defeated by your betters, or those more lucky.

    • Lukas, I appreciate your thoughts. I know what you mean about doing your best and feeling confident… But yeah, expressing it as an expectation to win just seems icky and entitled. Then what do you do if you don’t meet your expectations? If the other athletes are better or luckier? It seems like a worldview is on the line with “expect to win” rather than just a game.

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